What: Miami Dolphins (6-7) vs. Buffalo Bills (7-6)
Where: New Era Field, Orchard Park, N.Y.
When: 1 p.m.
Latest line/Over-under: Dolphins +3/39.5
Why you should watch
It seems rather hard to believe given their 4-7 start but the Dolphins could still make the playoffs. Really, they could. It’s a long shot, but by winning each of their last two games the Dolphins have climbed back into the hunt for the last AFC Wild Card berth. And for what it’s worth, the Dolphins actually looked like a playoff team while beating up on the Patriots last week. What the Dolphins have to do now is avoid suffering a letdown against a lesser team. No, the Bills are not a lesser team than the Dolphins but they are a lesser team than the Patriots, which means the Dolphins will have to find a way to bring the same kind of intensity and execution to this game that they did their game against New England. If they can do that they just might make the last couple weeks of the season very interesting.
Key on: Dolphins LT Laremy Tunsil
Dolphins coach Adam Gase has been rather pleased with the play of left tackle Laremy Tunsil of late. Gase says that Tunsil, who made the move back to left tackle after playing guard as a rookie last year, is finally starting to understand some of the nuances of his job. That may be true, but it’s clear Tunsil still has a ways to go before he reaches the level the Dolphins need him to play at. Tunsil has allowed seven quarterback hits this year, tied for the sixth-most among the 78 offensive tackles Pro Football Focus has graded. His challenge today will be stopping Bills edge rusher Jerry Hughes, who is proving to be one of the better run stoppers in the league. Per PFF, Hughes has so far graded out as the fifth-best defensive end in the league against the run. We’ll know a little more about just where Tunsil stands in his development after this matchup.
Drake has run the ball 48 times the past two weeks. That’s six more carries than he had the previous 11 games combined and that heavy workload probably has the Dolphins a bit concerned. Though Drake has gained 234 yards off those 48 carries (4.8 yards per carry) the Dolphins are still hesitant to over-work him out of fear he might not be fit enough to handle every-down duties just yet. With Damien Williams down the Dolphins have had no choice but to lean more heavily on Drake but you have to wonder if he might soon start to feel the effects of all those extra touches. Drake has shown no signs of slowing down just yet but he’s simply not accustomed to handling the ball as much as he has the past two weeks. At some point the extra duty may start to catch up to him. The Dolphins just have to hope this isn’t the week that happens.
Bama QB Tua Tagovailoa present to start NFL combine
The NFL Scouting Combine is getting underway in Indianapolis this week and on Monday morning, one of the prized quarterbacks that will be available early in the first round of the draft was there for official measurements and to meet with teams.
Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, whose season ended with a fractured hip last November, is on the road to recovery and he was officially measured and also, met with numerous teams that are looking at the possibility of drafting him:
Tua Tagovailoa measured at 6-0, 217 pounds at the NFL combine today. Left throwing hand at 10”
— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) February 24, 2020
In addition to not only the injured hip, but also a history of high ankle sprain problems, Tagovailoa has got to answer critics on his size. At just 6 – 0 feet there will be concerns about his ability to clearly see downfield through the massive bodies on NFL Sundays.
However, this can be combated by moving him around out of the pocket and that’s something that Alabama was successful at doing over his three years as well.
As we wrote recently, Tagovailoa was injured in Alabama’s 10th game of the season suffering a fractured hip on a sack late in the first half at Mississippi State. He missed the Tide’s final two regular-season games and then, their Citrus Bowl win January 1st, over Michigan
He came to Alabama from Hawaii and the same high school as Marcus Mariota, having thrown for over 8,000 yards which at that time was a Hawaii High School record. And, he had a career of 84 passing and 27 rushing touchdowns in three seasons.
Tua burst onto the scene nationally, when he relieved Jalen Hurts in the second half and overtime of Alabama’s thrilling title game win over Georgia in the 2018 College Football Playoff Championship Game. Tagovailoa threw the game-winning touchdown pass on the first overtime possession, as Alabama celebrated their fifth National Title in nine seasons under Saban.
In his second season at the helm in the 2018 regular season, Tagovailoa was named second-team AP All-American and was a Heisman Trophy finalist, as the Tide reached the National Title game, again, before being beaten soundly by Clemson 12 months ago.
As this junior season unfolded, Tagovailoa was named almost became synonymous with the Dolphins, who started the season horribly at 0 – 7 and the moniker “Tank for Tua” began to gain momentum in South Florida.
Tagovailoa is obviously on the Dolphins list to look at strongly to select in the top five in the draft and currently, Miami is slated to pick fifth.
It is expected that Tagovailoa will work out for teams probably later in March or maybe even, early April at the Tide’s facility in Tuscaloosa, prior to the NFL draft coming to Las Vegas.
Colorado announced hire of Dolphins assistant Dorrel Sunday
Former UCLA coach and recently promoted Dolphins assistant Karl Dorrell is headed back to college, as the new head coach of the Colorado Buffaloes.
The school confirmed Dorrell’s hire on Sunday evening with a five-year contract to take over their Big 12 program:
We'd like to officially introduce you to our new HC, Karl Dorrell.
— Colorado Buffaloes Football (@CUBuffsFootball) February 23, 2020
The Buffaloes have been seeking a head coach since there coach Mel Tucker abruptly left to take the Michigan State job earlier this month.
Dorrell came to the dolphins with Brian Flores this past season, as wide receiver coach and earlier last week was promoted to assistant head coach for the upcoming season. Miami’s top receiver, DeVante Parker, blossomed under Dorrell’s tutelage as the year went on. He finished the season with 72 catches for 1,202 yards and nine touchdowns becoming the favorite target of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Dorrel is the latest Dolphins assistant on the move. Flores fired the offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea he brought with him from New England. And, his defensive coordinator Patrick Graham left to take the same job with the Giants.
Dorrell had also been the Dolphins receivers coach, previously from 2008 – 10 and then, their quarterbacks coach in 2011 under the late Tony Sparano.
“I am excited that Karl Dorrell has agreed to become our head football coach,” George said. “Karl has had great success as a college coach, both as a head coach and an assistant, and he knows the Pac-12 Conference and West Coast well. It was important that our next coach have CU ties, and Karl has those ties having worked at CU twice previously. Karl shares my passion for Colorado and our vision for winning championships. He will be a tremendous mentor and role model for our student-athletes, and he will provide great leadership for our program going forward.”
The CU Board of Regents still have to approve Dorrell’s contract, which will be $18 million for five seasons.
Dorrell had previously been on Colorado staffs two other times in his career, including most recently as offensive coordinator under Rick Neuheisel from 1995- 98.
Dorrell was named head coach of his alma mater UCLA in 2003, where he lasted five seasons and went to a bowl game every year finishing with a career 35 – 27 record before being fired after the 2007 season.
Dorrell had previously been receivers coach for the New York Jets 2015 – 18 under Todd Bowles (above) and two of his receivers had made the Pro Bowl during his time there.
Colorado picked Dorrell from an interview process that also included former Buffaloes player and Kansas City Super Bowl offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy, who interviewed and was under strong consideration.